The window cleaner seen around the world

In the 60s, Frenchman Jean-Claude Decaux worked as a window cleaner in Lyon when he had a groundbreaking idea. Every day he saw outdoor posters littering the streets, and he asked himself if advertising could be a part of the solution instead of the problem. Municipalities were expanding public transportation, and needed to find financing for things such as bus shelters. What if you combined the need for commercial ad space with the needs of the public? By providing municipalities with elegant and well-maintained bus shelters, entirely financed by advertising, you could not only improve public transportation, but also solve a big part of the littering problem.

50 years ago I created the first bus shelters in the world completely financed by advertising, with no cost for tax payers. I wanted to solve a problem by delivering a service to public transportation and its passengers, as well as getting rid of dirty, run-down public facilities. In doing so outdoor advertising was rejuvenated as well, finally having a quality space in the public, enabling it to flourish creatively.

– Jean-Claude Decaux

The first bus shelter with ad panels was installed 1964 in Lyon. It didn’t take long for citizens as well as municipalities and ad buyers to fall in love with the idea, and Jean-Claude Decaux’s small company quickly turned into an empire. Alongside bus shelters he launched a complete product line of street furniture, including fully automatic toilets, benches, billboards, and newsstands. To make sure the quality was up to his standards, he started cooperating with world famous architects, such as Norman Foster, Jean-Michel Wilmotte, and Patrick Jouin.

In 1999 Jean-Claude bought mass media company Vivendi, making JCDecaux the largest outdoor advertising corporation in the world. Only one year later he stepped down from his chair as CEO, leaving the company to his sons, and they took the company public within one year. Another milestone came in 2006, when JCDecaux won the bid for a self-service bicycle rental system in Paris, with a total of 18.000 bikes – in fierce competition with Clear Channel.

Today we sell outdoor advertising space in 3.400 cities spread over 70 countries, reaching more than 340 million individuals every day. We have almost 12.000 employees and our headquarters are just west of Paris, France, in Neuilly-sur-Seine.

JCDecaux started operating in Sweden back in 1989. We signed an agreement with the City of Malmö to provide the city with bus shelters funded by advertising, community information boards, and fully automated street toilets. Other Swedish cities soon followed. In 1997, JCDecaux acquired all shares in a Swedish outdoor advertising firm, AB Förenade ARE-bolagen, which enabled us to expand our product range with for instance advertising columns and billboards.

Today we have 120 employees in Sweden, and we operate in the 25 largest cities of the country. Our range consists of 2.500 bus shelters, 80 fully automated street toilets, 1.500 community information boards, more than 3.000 public trash bins, and 1.360 rental bikes.

Our maintenance crew of 85 employees ensure that all units are always looking their best. Employing your own crew under a collective labor agreement enables us to guarantee quality through the whole value chain – an important reason for the success of JCDecaux.